Valentino Rossi is optimistic that he will be able to stay with Casey Stoner in today's Qatar Grand Prix, despite the Australian's record of success at Losail.
Ducati rider Stoner has won at the Qatar track for the past three years, and beat Rossi to pole there yesterday by 0.3 seconds. But Rossi thinks his Yamaha will be better in race trim, and that this will allow him to at least challenge Stoner for the lead.
"At the end in this practice, with the harder tires and the race settings, I was very fast," Rossi said. "For sure it will be difficult to stay with Casey, but we are not so far away, so second position is a good position to start with.
"Unfortunately, with the soft tire I wasn't able to improve enough to do pole position, because the rear slid a bit too much. So we suffered a little bit more than we expected.
"But anyway, it's OK, second position is good. For the race, we'll try to improve our settings a bit and we'll try to go with him."